Miley Cyrus is a global phenoma. So, as the wrecking ball swings again to reveal a resurrected loved-up Miley with new single ‘Malibu’, we ask is she real? Or is all this Miley-could-not-give-a-f**k-ness some kind of Big Brother chicanery designed to take us on Miley’s journey and earn all concerned a packet. It’s probably both. She may only exist on MTV.
Flipping through a list of pop idols from the last few years, you’d be foolish to think much has changed. The roles are the same as they have been since rock n roll tossed its head back and screamed, or even before. Taylor Swift is the smart emotional one, Justin Bieber is the bad boy everyone keeps forgiving. And then there’s Miley Cyrus, who it seems just couldn’t give a f**k.
In our search for the perfect pop star, the majority of the visuals you stumble across are female pop princesses. Google images are dominated by the pouts of Swift, Rihanna, Katy Perry. But these days, at least some girls are looking for more from their princesses than a smile and a bikini. You only need to look at how Disney are machinating! The massive success of the female characters in animation block buster Frozen may have taken them by surprise, but they were not slow in their attempts to cash in. Billing the casting of Emma Watson as Beauty in Beauty and the Beast as a strike for feminism just because she read books is an amusing example.
The Miley Cyrus story is well documented. Daughter of nineties country music star, Billy Ray Cyrus, this is a girl who grew up accustomed to the Hollywood machinery. Her early breakthrough came as child star of massive hit series, Hannah Montana, where she played a ‘normal’ teenager with a double life as a famous pop star. A squeaky clean Hannah merged in to a squeaky clean Miley’s first forays into music. It was as if they were one person.
For Miley of course that would have been a very cute but very short story. And Miley is smarter than that. But even though she was clearly putting some distance between Miley and Hannah over the next couple of years, it was still a shock when a controversial Miley emerged swinging naked on demolition balls and twerking with Robin Thicke during the promotion for her massive hit ‘Bangerz’ album. Her image became angular, trashy and provocative; her fashion sexual and whoreish. The music was a sideshow – to the imagery and the battles famously and publicly with Nicki Minaj. The whole thing was a million dollar, headline wrestling rebellion if you like.
Wrapped up in this new shock Miley Cyrus, there were many different and more interesting Miley’s too. Attention seeker, wild child, transgender provocateur, feminist, media whore, social activist. It was all put out there – purportedly – by Miley herself. The publicists must adore it when their wards are prone to global vomiting on social media in the middle of the night. I guess the current White House team are finding that out too. But I digress.
So onwards with Miley and what do you do after the immensity of Bangerz? Well you do your ‘Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave’ moment and gang up with Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne to create a fascinating, if bizarre, psychedelic album, Miley & Her Dead Petz. Everything is accelerated with Miley.
Roll on to May 2017. In the video for her new single release, ‘Malibu’, there’s a Cyrus we’ve not seen before. The trashy, attention seeking, provocative, R n B stripper Cyrus of Bangerz, and the kooky indie of Miley & Her Dead Petz has been usurped by a softer, sexy, doll-like creation; still bold; still beautiful; but transformed. Miley says she’s given up weed. Some might say this is a new rehabilitated Miley – but that would be missing the point I think.
We don’t know much about the rest of the album that’s due out later this year. But watching Miley sing on the video about love in Malibu, we flash through changes of soft white outfits. All floaty fabric, else cute tiny rompers, or cropped sweaters twisted to reveal just about nothing. The hair is no longer severe and angular. It’s more ‘naturelle’, longer and dishevelled, or plaited. The blond growing out telling a tale of growth. The feel is loved-up, laid back, bohemian in a fresh, Californian kind of way. If it’s about Miley’s frame of mind she’s in a good place right now, back with pre-Bangerz ex, Liam Hemsworth (famously Gale in Hunger Games and brother of Chris Hemsworth).
The many faces of Miley are contradictory. But I think all those Miley’s are the real Miley. And what could be more real than having many faces? The main difference between Miley and the rest of them – and the rest of us – is she seems to have no embarrassment gene when it comes to splashing it all out there. She is a true child of a new media age. She has grown up and is growing up in public; complex and confusing. Bold and real and scared and vulnerable. It’s an agonising dialectic for today’s youth, where on one hand you want to put yourself out there, but when you do you agonise over every comment and heart. One thing’s for sure. If Miley does agonise, we’ll never know for sure!
Catch Miley Cyrus performing “Malibu” on the ABC’s Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 21st. Miley will also be performing on NBC’s Today Show’s Summer Concert Series on Friday, May 26th, and at iHeart Media’s iHeartSummer ’17 Weekend By AT&T taking place at Fontainebleau Miami Beach on Friday, June 9th and Saturday, June 10th.
Miley Cyrus photos copyright of artist.